From the MoviesEscape pods are small emergency craft designed to detach from a larger vessel or launch from a planetary surface as a means of escape from a catastrophic event. As such, these pods feature a simplified design to allow for maximum ease of use. Usually, it's just a matter of pressing a control stud that initiates the launch cycle.
A pod is typically oriented to allow for simple chemical or explosive-based launch. This allows the pod to be ejected in the event of complete power loss in the mother ship. A series of exploding latches hurl the pod into space.
Some planets maintain a network of escape pods to flee from surface danger into the upper atmosphere. When at a lofty altitude, these pods then transmit distress signals. Some pods are used for interstellar travel, but these are rare.
Use of pods is usually restricted only to organic lifeforms -- not droids. As such these pods are also known as lifepods.
From the Expanded UniverseGalactic law dictates that there be enough pods on a vessel to safely evacuate all carried crew and passengers. A typical small-size pod can carry upwards of six to eight people. Larger pods are identified as lifeboats.
Pods travel a safe distance from the vessel (usually about 5,000 meters) before broadcasting a distress signal at five-second intervals. It is a spacer felony to not investigate a discovered escape pod. If there is a planet nearby, chemical-based attitude adjusters reorient the pod toward the planet. The pod's specialized sensors perform a quick planetary life support survey, and then target an environmentally safe area for landing.
The pod uses planetary entry ballistics to propel it in an atmosphere. The chemical rockets require very little power, and can only be used once. They are mainly used to slow descent and steer the craft to the optimum landing point. Some pods feature parachutes, repulsorlift units or flotation devices to help ease descent. Ships with multiple pods feature "podlock navigation" wherein subsequent pods follow the landing coordinates of the assigned "main pod."
Starship-based escape pods only have a limited amount of food and supplies. Generally, there are a week's worth of consumables for six passengers. This typically includes 74 liters of fresh water, a hunting blaster, a dozen flares, an emergency signal beacon, six breath masks, one porta-shelter, and six Uni-Environment Survival Suits. The standard eight-person pod found aboard freighters has food and oxygen supplies for two weeks. The latter escape pod costs about 1,200 credits and takes up 5 tons of displacement from a freighter's cargo capacity. Escape pods are not combat-worthy in any way.
Near the Kachirho beaches of Kashyyyk, the Wookiees maintained a network of simple escape pods that launched from hidden recesses beneath the hillsides. Cobbled together from wrecked starships, these escape pods had simple sublight capabilities that launched them into orbital space.
Behind the ScenesThe launch of the Tantive IV's escape pod in A New Hope was the first visual effect shot completed by Industrial Light & Magic. The model was quickly cobbled together, described by modelmaker Lorne Peterson as a "five-day wonder." The 18-inch model was created by joining two paper paint buckets together and covering them with laminated plastic and detailing.
Keywords: Databank - Expanded Universe, Databank - Episode III, Databank - Episode IV, Databank - The Clone Wars
Filed under: Vault, Starship
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